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Slow Cooker Barbacoa

This Crockpot Beef Barbacoa recipe is easy and delicious! Blend up a quick flavorful sauce, dump it with the beef in the slow cooker, and you have a wonderful meal waiting for you at the end of the day! This easy slow cooker barbacoa is perfect in tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and so much more!

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A tabletop with a blue towel, limes, cilantro, and a white plate with a bunch of tacos that are filled with crockpot beef barbacoa.

Easy Barbacoa Recipe

This is one of those super classic crockpot meals. It is easy to throw together in the morning, it cooks all day, and you have a super delicious meal ready for you at the end of the day.

Barbacoa is the perfect contender for a slow cooker meal because the origins of this Mexican dish is cooking the meat all day long in an underground pit! And as much as we all wish we could have that version for a weeknight meal we have to adapt that to our modern lifestyle, that is where the slow cooker comes in!

By doing the barbacoa in the slow cooker it gives it a chance to cook slowly and become super tender while soaking in all the flavor from the delicious sauce.

Close shot of a plate of tacos with beef barbacoa garnished with onions and cilantro.

Ingredients

This recipe is developed to make it easy as possible by blending up all the sauce ingredients quickly. The list may look long at first but at closer look you will see that it is a lot of spices, easy pantry items, and just a few fresh items.

  • Beef Chuck Roast
  • Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
  • Garlic Cloves
  • Onion
  • Cumin
  • Oregano
  • Kosher Salt
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Lime
  • Orange
  • Ground Cloves

For a complete detailed list of the ingredients continue towards the bottom of the page.

All the ingredients needed to make slow cooker barbacoa laid out on a table top.

How to Make Barbacoa in the Slow Cooker

Start by making the sauce, this can be done in a food processor or blender. Peel the garlic cloves and the onion. Then cut the onion into large chunks to make it easier to blend. Add the garlic and onion to the food processor or blender.

Next juice the lime and orange into the food processor. Now add in the remaining sauce ingredients into the food processor the chipotle peppers, cumin, oregano, salt, apple cider vinegar, and cloves. Blend smooth about 30 seconds until no chunks remain and a sauce has formed. 

Collage showing the before and after of the sauce for crockpot barbacoa being made.

Prepare the beef for the slow cooker by carefully cutting into 4 large even sized chunks by doing this it gives the beef more surface volume to soak in the flavors of the sauce. Now add the beef to the slow cooker and pour all the sauce overtop. Cover and cook on LOW 6-7 hours. 

Once beef barbacoa is done cooking it should be ready to be gently pulled apart with forks before serving!

Collage showing the steps of adding the beef and sauce to the slow cooker.
Close look inside a black crockpot showing shredded beef barbacoa garnished with cilantro and two golden spoons for serving.

How to Serve Barbacoa

Barbacoa is traditionally served with onions, cilantro, and tortillas. But honestly you can make so many meals with it! Especially because this is a larger recipe you likely can make multiple meals!

  • Tacos
  • Burritos
  • Burrito Bowls
  • Quesadillas
  • Nachos

Often times will will have tacos with barbacoa beef for dinner and then next day we will have quesadillas or nachos with the leftover barbacoa!

Side angle of a white plate filled with a bunch of tacos filled with crockpot barbacoa and garnished with onions, radishes, and cilantro.

Tips, Tricks, and Questions

  • Freeze the leftover chipotle peppers from the can with the sauce for future use, you can do this in a small bag or in ice cube trays!
  • This can be cooked on high for 3-4 hours but I am think it does do better on low.
  • Even with the addition of the chipotle peppers I do NOT find this to be a spicy dish, my 3 & 5 year old will eat it no problem and my oldest does not care for spicy things.

If you like Slow Cooker Barbacoa you might also like:

Close up view of five barbacoa filled tacos on a white plate next to a bunch of sliced limes and a bunch of cilantro.

Slow Cooker Barbacoa

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 10 minutes

So easy to prepare this crockpot beef barbacoa is sure to become a family favorite. With help from a very quick sauce this Mexican barbacoa recipe is a perfect dump and go meal!

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds beef chuck roast
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 lime
  • 1 orange
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves

Instructions

  1. Peel garlic and onion, cut onion into large chunks. Add to a food processor or blender. Juice the lime and orange into the food processor. Add the remaining sauce ingredients into the food processor the chipotle peppers, cumin, oregano, salt, vinegar, and cloves. Blend smooth about 30 seconds until no chunks remain and a sauce has formed.
  2. Prepare the beef for the slow cooker by carefully cutting into 4 large even sized chunks. Add the beef to the slow cooker. Pour all the sauce overtop all the beef. Cover and cook on LOW 6-7 hours.
  3. Once beef barbacoa is done cooking it should be ready to be gently pulled apart with forks before serving.

Notes

You can also cook on high 3-4 hours but I found that this recipe does a lot better low and slow.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 8 ounces
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 569Total Fat: 35gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 188mgSodium: 891mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 57g

Nutritional data is automated, final nutritional information will depend on ingredients used and any changes made.

Did you make this recipe?

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Peace & Love

Lauren, The Schmidty Wife

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